918 - せいで

JLPT N3: せいで (because of; on account of)

The word せい means something like "blame."

This is a useful word to know once you've made some close friends who speak Japanese because it's vital to point out when they are responsible for problems!

お前のせいだ!
おまえ の せい だ!
It's your fault!
Literally: "you (=[casual/rude]) + の + blame / fault + だ!"


If you're still not entirely sure about the exact nuance of お前 (おまえ) and whether it is appropriate to be used with a certain friend, which can be extremely hard to judge, it's probably best to avoid its use. Instead, you can just use your friend's name:

ダイスケのせいだ!
ダイスケ の せい だ!
It's your fault! // It's Daisuke's fault!
Literally: "Daisuke + の + blame / fault + だ!"
Note: If we were to write Daisuke's name in kanji, it might be a number of things, like 大輔, 大介, or 大祐. Reading Japanese names is tough.


As you may have guessed looking at the above sentences, せい is a noun. In fact, while writing this lesson, I even learned that this word has kanji: 所為. But knowing that won't really help you all that much because people usually just write it in hiragana.

When we're talking about the undesirable result of something — and more specifically, who or what is to blame for that undesirable result — we can use the construction せいで.

[cause] せいで [undesirable result]


Like this:

私は足が大きいせいで、可愛い靴がなかなか見つからない。
わたし は あし が おおきい せいで、 かわいい くつ が なかなか みつからない。
I have a hard time finding cute shoes because of my big feet.
Literally: “I + は + feet + が + big + せいで, + cute + shoes + が + not readily + can’t be found.”


The undesirable result:

可愛い靴がなかなか見つからない
かわいい くつ が なかなか みつからない
I have a hard time finding cute shoes
Literally: “cute + shoes + が + not readily + can’t be found”


...which is caused by:

足が大きい
あし が おおきい
(I) have big feet.
Literally: “feet + が + big”


...and we connect the two with せいで

私は足が大きいせいで、可愛い靴がなかなか見つからない。
わたし は あし が おおきい せいで、 かわいい くつ が なかなか みつからない。
I have a hard time finding cute shoes because of my big feet.
Literally: “I + は + feet + が + big + せいで, + cute + shoes + が + not readily + can’t be found.”


We also could have translated the sentence as "...because I have big feet" or "...because my feet are big." In the end, I went with the shorter "...because of my big feet." Any of these probably would have been fine.

 

I felt a bit odd listing this grammar point as せいで because after learning that せい meant something like "fault" or "blame," and that we end a sentence with it using せいだ, it just seemed natural that we would use the て-form of the copula (=で) when connecting two clauses: せいで.

But, yeah, whatever. If you see this grammar showing up on the JLPT, there is a good chance that it will be in the せいで form that we're covering in this lesson.

Another example:

昨日飲みすぎたせいで、寝坊してしまった。
きのう のみすぎた せいで、 ねぼう して しまった。
I overslept this morning because I drank too much last night.
Literally: “yesterday + drank too much + せいで, + oversleeping + (unfortunately) did.”


The word coming directly before せいで will be in the plain form. We're not seeing it in this lesson, but in the case of na-adjectives, we would include な between them and せいで. In the case of NOUNS, we'll stick a between them and せいで.

僕は髪の毛を伸ばしています。せいで、よく女の子に間違えられます。
ぼく は かみのけ を のばしています。 その せいで、 よく おんなのこ に まちがえられます。
I’m growing out my hair. I often get mistaken for a girl because of it.
Literally: “I + は + hair + を + am growing out. + that + せいで, + often + girl + に + am mistaken.”


Confusing Highlight Alert

I was pretty lost regarding what color I should highlight その. What part of speech is that word, anyway? Dictionaries seem to call it a "pre-noun adjectival" or an "adnominal adjective" both of which are gibberish to me. Then a Japanese dictionary pointed out that the word is the combination of the pronoun そ and the (case-making) particle の. That sort of made sense to me, so I highlighted it as . None of this really matters, though.

 

Up until now, we've been looking at:

[cause] せいで [undesirable result]


But if you're not entirely sure of the cause of the undesirable result, you can say:

[possible cause] せいか [undesirable result]


せいだ → せいか
[cause] → [possible cause]

Like this:

せいか、若い頃のように熟睡できなくなった。
とし の せいか、 わかい ころ の ように じゅくすい できなく なった。
Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, but I can't sleep as well as I could when I was younger.
Literally: “age + の + せいか, + young + (approximate) time + の + like / similar to (=ように) + sound sleep + can’t do + became.”

 

That's all for this one.

If you want to become the cause-result master, maybe go back and review these lessons:

[NDL #351] - JLPT N4: ため(に)(because of)
[NDL #365] - JLPT N4: て (reason, cause)
[NDL #511] - JLPT N4: ので
[NDL #352] - JLPT N3: おかげで
[NDL #513] - JLPT N3: から (on account of)
[NDL #917] - JLPT N3: によって (because of)

Happy studies! Don't drown in all those lessons...